Refinancing student loans isn’t an option for everyone.

In some cases, you might not meet the strict eligibility requirements. In other cases, you may wish to keep your loans where they are.

Even if you can’t refinance, you still have options available to help manage student loan debt.

Options for private student loans

Request a new due date

If you’re having trouble making payments, contact your lender to see if you can change your schedule. Changing your payment due date to payday, for example, is generally an easy fix that private lenders are willing to accommodate.

Consider consolidation

Refinancing and consolidation are not the same thing. You can learn more about the differences between refinancing vs. consolidation here, but to summarize: Refinancing is creating a new loan while consolidating is rolling all loans into one.

Contact your lender to see what options are available to help you handle student loan debt.

Look into private student loan forgiveness

If you work in certain sectors, you could apply for private loan forgiveness through the National Health Service Corps. This resource also has other information and programs that could help you settle your private student loans.

Contact lender if you can’t make payments

Communicate with the lender if you are experiencing financial troubles. If you stop paying, interest will continue to accrue, and your balance will keep growing. If you default, the lender may send your debt to collections.

Options for federal student loans

Consolidate loans for a lower monthly payment

The good news: Consolidating loans should have little impact on your credit score. The Direct Consolidation Loan program keeps you eligible for income-based repayment programs, so your payment should be workable for you.

Making regular, on-time monthly payments is the best thing you can do for your credit.

Change your repayment plan

Federal loans offer a lot of programs and flexibility when it comes to repayment. For instance, an income-based repayment plan may be for you.

Income-based repayment plans take your income into account when determining your monthly payment. Your payment will be based on a percentage of your discretionary income. Best of all, borrowers on or after July 1, 2014, are eligible for loan forgiveness after 20 years of repayment.

Deferment and forbearance are options

Inquire about deferment and forbearance if you are experiencing a temporary financial hardship, including being currently enrolled in school.

Deferment and forbearance will not affect your credit score. In fact, they can prevent you from defaulting on your student loans.

Look into public service loan forgiveness

If you work for a qualified employer, you could qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF). Employers who qualify for PSLF include government agencies and nonprofits.

The way it works is simple: Make 120 qualifying payments while working full time for a qualifying employer, and the remaining balance will be forgiven.

However, consolidating your federal loans can reset the clock on PSLF payments. In other words, if you had been paying your loans on an income-based repayment plan for a period of time, and then you consolidate, you could lose credit for those payments.

The bottom line

Even if you do qualify for refinancing, we suggest that you compare your options before making a decision on how to manage student loan debt.

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